Geraldton residents “grateful” for ANZAC Day dawn service

Headshot of Liam Beatty
Liam BeattyGeraldton Guardian
Email Liam Beatty
Steve Couacaud, an airforce veteran, says attending ANZAC Day is an important way to honour his 17 family members who have served.
Camera IconSteve Couacaud, an airforce veteran, says attending ANZAC Day is an important way to honour his 17 family members who have served. Credit: Geraldton Guardian

For the first time in two years, Geraldton residents were able to gather in-person for an ANZAC Day dawn service this morning at the Wonthella Oval.

Approximately 1000 people attended to commemorate our servicemen and women at an event, organisers initially feared would be unable to go ahead under COVID-19 restrictions.

Last month, an agreement was struck between the Geraldton RSL sub-branch and Towns Football Club for use of the oval, with many Geraldton businesses reaching out to offer equipment to help the service run smoothly.

Attendance at the event fell well under the 3000 to 4000 people seen in previous years, with some indicating the ongoing COVID-19 scare in Perth may have led some to avoid the mass-gathering.

Terry O'Toole, Paul Rauchwald and Mike Kendrick.
Camera IconTerry O'Toole, Paul Rauchwald and Mike Kendrick. Credit: Liam Beatty/Geraldton Guardian
Darren and Emma Smith with Nicholas, 2, Evelyn, 5, and Alexander, 7.
Camera IconDarren and Emma Smith with Nicholas, 2, Evelyn, 5, and Alexander, 7. Credit: Liam Beatty/Geraldton Guardian

“I had to think long and hard about coming with what’s unfolding in Perth,” one man told the Geraldton Guardian. “But after missing out last year, I felt I had to come.”

Geraldton RSL sub-branch president Barry Stinson spoke about the sympathy he had for veterans and community members in the Perth and Peel region unable to attend a service.

“We should all take time to think of our brothers and sisters in Perth who for a second year are unable to commemorate ANZAC Day at a service,” he said.

“We had to step outside of our comfort zone to make sure this event could go ahead. On behalf of the Geraldton RSL I’d like to give my heartfelt thanks to those in the community that reached out and helping make this service a reality. We’re grateful for the support.”

Classic military vehicles were used in the march to transport veterans unable to walk.
Camera IconClassic military vehicles were used in the march to transport veterans unable to walk. Credit: Geraldton Guardian
Members from Geraldton's 11th Battalion Living History Unit performing a military salute.
Camera IconMembers from Geraldton's 11th Battalion Living History Unit performing a military salute. Credit: Geraldton Guardian

The service began with a march across the oval that included veterans, army and air force cadets and WA Police officers — some being driven in classic military vehicles.

The Mounting of the Guard was conducted by Geraldton’s 11th Battalion Living History Unit at a purpose-built cenotaph, while the Geraldton City Band performed at the ceremony.

By 7.30am RSL members had left the service for a private gathering at Birdwood House where a gunfire breakfast would be held.

A second service will be held at 10am at the Geraldton Anglican Cathedral to mark 100 years since the foundation of the Royal Australian Air Force and the role Geraldton played in training pilots during World War II.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails